Arcane Studies

Magic is an integral part of fantasy. It is also a core plot device in my writing but the question becomes, how does it all work for my characters? The closest thing I can do is relate it to my own current, incremental, learning experience with mathematics.
Math, and Algebra in particular, have always been something I’ve avoided but like a Byronic hero you can’t hide from some things forever. So there I sit, Saturday after Saturday, learning the ropes of everything from fractions to polynomials and surprise: I’m not bad at it.
I’m on my third tier of remedial learning and so far it’s all As. Last night, like a foreign language, I was dreaming about it. Math is a background item. You don’t need to know how your car operates to drive it just as you don’t need to know how your computer’s CPU works to surf the net or write your blog. Don’t get me wrong for an instant: math does not come easily to me. I am working hard at getting it. My key to success is knowing when my frustration limit has reached its peak. I walk away for a few hours or a day then return to the problem. The difference between the me of now and the me of high school is that I would have walked away for a year or a decade. As I learn, incrementally, I begin to appreciate Physics and the knowledge that math does in many ways shape our world.
For my characters, the magic is usually just as ever present, but just as unseen as wind. They feel its effects but for those who aren’t in the know of the why, its a puzzling situation. Like me, every Saturday for what feels the rest of my life, they are learning by baby steps to move towards what makes the world work. They are finding within themselves the strength to move forward. They are falling a lot but even then they are taking steps.
Math is a science just as grammar is. Since I’ve started learning math, a number of friends have expressed a desire to write. All of them wanted to know how to get started and I found it very complimentary considering I’ve yet to achieve any commercial success. My response was to just start: put pen to paper and take those first steps into an unseen world. Learn the rules as you go. Practice your grammar but most of all don’t get frustrated and walk away.

One thought on “Arcane Studies

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sage advice…
    The start of any journey is the first step, and the start of any book would be the first words. Some people say the hardest thing about doing something new is that first step. I would argue that first step is not all that hard at all. It is the frustrating moments, the hours of fruitless work that give way to the moments of fruitful work and, in the end, the walking back to the table that are the hardest parts.
    Congrats on going back to math, and doubly on inspiring others to get back to the table.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *